Modern library. How students choose universities?

By Gil Dekel.

In an excellent conference I attended in London[1], five students were given the opportunity to answer questions and share their experience about choosing their university. Here is a summary of the questions and the students’ answers:

How did you look up and choose your university?

  • YouTube videos. Not ‘talking heads’ videos, but videos showing students that are engaging in learning at the University.
  • Google ranking. If a university is at the top of the search list then it is seen as more reliable.
  • Ranks tables (such as the Guardian).
  • How well the university is networked with businesses. What are the jobs prospects.
  • Whether tutors published articles.
  • Impression from Open Days.
  • The actual look of the university’s website. Non-structured and non-engaging websites puts you off.


Can you share examples/suggestions for good teaching experience?

  • PowerPoint presentations work better with a voice-over that is added to the slides. In classes, it is more effective if the tutors do not use the same PP that they sent us before the lesson, but rather if they use different PP on related ‎topic. This is good approach in flipped learning.‎
  • Use simulations, modelling activities.‎
  • Provide practical examples in class. For example, a lesson about deafness taught by a deaf teacher with ‎interpreter in class. This was practical experience of the subject taught (not just ‎theory).
  • Teachers can talk about their passion. If they teach they must have passion to the subject. How they went about in their career? What is their experience at work? Tutors can inspire students by sharing their path.


What do you think about student-centred teaching?

  • It helps students bring their personal experience and focus into the lesson, thus make the lesson more relevant to students.
  • Requires students to make preparations and research, which is good.
  • Students learn to facilitate and also to communicate.


Modern library. How students choose universities?

How students choose universities?… Photo  © Pavan Trikutam / Unsplash. Used with permission‎.


What is more important, tutor’s subject knowledge or tutor’s relation to cohort?

  • Subject knowledge comes first. It is more important that tutors are knowledgeable in their field, than building relations with students.
  • Being experts in the field make the teachers more reliable anyway, and this in itself can build strong relations with students. On the other hand, many teachers are experts in their field but they do not know how to facilitate engaging lessons…


Assessment design and feedback.

  • In truth, students can know in advance how they will be assessed, because modules descriptions will tell you how the assessment work. So students can strategically choose modules depending on how they prefer to be assessed at the end.
  • Good feedback from teacher will explain:
    • What the student did right
    • What the student did not do right, and how to correct it
    • Have a summary with 3 points advice on how to improve your grades next time.
  • Knowing that the course work is counted towards the final mark, and not just the exam’s result, is reassuring. It reassures that there are more chances to pass the course, as the exam is not the only criteria for the final mark.
  • Class feedback: feedback from teacher to the overall performance of the class. This is useful.
  • Good assessment design will include varied styles to accommodate different students’ preferences.


The benefit of soft-skills awards, such as digital badges.

These are ok as long as the awards relate to the course and are relevant to students’ skills and interests.

It is best to work with students from 1st year as they are fresh and more eager to participate in soft-skills awards or extra activities, compared to 3rd year students that are about to graduate and are less enthusiastic.

Students want to learn skills that will help them solve problems in life. Once they complete their degree and start a job they will be faced with challenges, so they want to be ready and able to approach different issues and solve them.

Students are aware that they will soon graduate and join the market place…



© Gil Dekel. 19 June 2016.
Photo of library © Pavan Trikutam / Unsplash. Used with permission.

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How students choose a university? by Dr. Gil Dekel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


[1] Learning at City Conference, 8th June 2016, organised by City University London, Learning Enhancement & Development (LEaD). This is a summary of session number 3 (2.40pm). Session title: Expectation of excellence in teaching: The student perspective. Organisers of the session: Jo Richardson and Pete Kogan.

London etc venues. Hatton Gardens.